COURTESY OF HUMANA
CHICAGO — Sept. 16, 2014 — PCC Community Wellness Center (PCC), a system of 11 community-based health centers dedicated to improving health outcomes for underserved communities in Westside Chicago and surrounding suburbs, is the recipient of this year's $350,000 Humana Communities Benefit charitable grant in Chicago, which is funded by the Humana Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM).
To further engage the community in activities that promote healthy living, PCC will use the $350,000 grant to create a community farm in an eight-thousand-square-foot lot across the street from the PCC Austin Family Health Center. The Chicago neighborhood of Austin lacks adequate access to affordable and healthy food, has been federally designated as a Medically Underserved Area and has nearly 53 percent of its 98,500 residents living at or below the Federal Poverty Level. The community farm responds to these issues by providing Austin residents with fresh, affordable produce and allowing eight families each year to plant food in their own personal plots.
The community farm will also include an education component focusing on nutrition and physical activity. PCC will partner with the Chicago Botanic Garden, which will lend participants of its urban agricultural program, Windy City Harvest, to assist in the farm's installation and provide monthly training programs for participants. The grant will also allow PCC to employ Windy City Harvest participants to build the farm, as well as provide three years of seasonal full-time work for one individual that will maintain the farm.
"PCC is dedicated to breaking down the many health care barriers that exist in the medically underserved areas of Chicago," said Robert Urso, President & CEO of PCC Community Wellness Center. "This community farm will help us not just improve the health of our patients but transform a whole neighborhood by providing essential resources. With the help of this $350,000 Humana Communities Benefit grant, we aim to engage at least 150 local participants each year and continue our mission to improve the health of our community."
Nonprofit organizations in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kankakee, Lake and McHenry counties were eligible to apply for this year's grant in Chicago, where the program has been offered for 12 consecutive years. The new structure of the Humana Communities Benefit program awards nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations a total of $350,000, provided in three installments over a three-year period.
"Sustainability is an important facet of improving the health of local communities, and that is precisely what made PCC's plan to build a community farm the model project to award the $350,000 Humana Communities Benefit grant," said Kristine Seymour, Regional Vice President of Market Development in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. "We are confident this project will help PCC fulfill its commitment to renewing the health of a community affected by poverty, unemployment and lack of adequate resources."
Family Alliance, whose mission is to provide adults, caregivers and families with programs and services that promote an enhanced quality of life, and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, which aims to improve the lives of individuals living with a mood disorder, were the other two finalists for the Chicago grant.
The three organizations participated in the inaugural online community vote hosted on HumanaHCBVote.com. One of this year's many new features, the online vote gave the public the opportunity to weigh in on which organization it felt was most deserving of the Humana Communities Benefit grant. The public's results were included during the final round of judging, which included formal presentations to a panel of community leaders and business representatives that decided the winning nonprofit in each city.
For more information on the Humana Communities Benefit program, visitwww.Humana.com/HCB.
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